What is a world heritage site?
A World Heritage country, otherwise known as a World Heritage Site, is a place designated by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that has significance in several ways. This includes (as the UNESCO name implies) history, culture and science.
The sites that UNESCO embraces are distinguished forests, lakes, monuments, buildings, mountains, and wilderness spots. Islands and cities also qualify if they meet the World Heritage Convention (WHC) criteria.
Criteria of World Heritage Sites by County
A country that has a masterpiece in it that depicts human ingenuity qualifies, and so does a country that expresses exceptional cultural testimony. If it’s a building that still stands, it must have some extraordinary significance in that location’s (and human) history. Other criteria include as follows:
- An outstanding example of human values over time around the world
- A leader in architecture, technology, town planning or landscape design
- Exceptional natural beauty of a landscape
- Striking examples of the earth’s history
- An important ecological and biological site
- A habitat scientific or biological diversity region
- Presence of freshwater and terrestrial habitats not too disturbed by humans
- Example of plant and animal biological diversity
You can find a complete list of the World Heritage Site criteria at the UNESCO site.
World Heritage Countries List
The list won’t fit here. You can refer to the list of World Heritage Countries posted on the UNESCO website. Nations, territories and regions from every continent have World Heritage sites within their borders.
The Breakdown (Examples of Landmarks)
An update as late as 2022 shows 1154 total properties listed. This includes 897 cultural, 218 natural, 38 mixed, and 167 state parties are also listed. 52 WHC sites are in danger. See the following examples, and again, you can find more information at the UNESCO website, which shows the full property list.
Cultural sites include the Butrint in Albania, the Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena in the Caribbean, and Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison in Barbados. Other cultural examples: Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System in South America, L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site in Canada, and Rock Drawings in Valcamonica in Italy.
Cultural Sites in Danger
According to the WHC, Cultural landmarks in danger include the Historic Centre of Vienna in Austria and the City of Potosi in Bolivia. Another is the Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park in the Central African Republic.
Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area in China, Los Katíos National Park in Columbia and Garajonay National Park in Spain. Other natural WHC places include Stevns Klint in Denmark, Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley) in Egypt and Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems in France.
Mixed sites have achieved both WHC natural and cultural significance. Examples include the Kakadu National Park and the Willandra Lakes Region in Australia and the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu in Peru.